View Full Version : COURSE REVIEW: Carbine/Pistol w/ Louis Awerbuck - 29-31AUG06

September 3, 2006, 04:55 PM
Carbine/Pistol with Louis Awerbuck – www.yfainc.com
Boone County, Indiana - 28-31 August, 2006
Copyright © 2006 by [email protected]

PART 1 of 2

29 August, 2006 – Day One

Today was day one of three of Carbine/Pistol with Louis Awerbuck at the Boone County Sheriff’s range in Lebanon, Indiana. The host was our friend, Captain (and soon to be sheriff) Ken Campbell.

Day one started with the paperwork and the standard safety lecture. After that, we had a brief discussion of the class and then hit the range to zero the sights on our rifles. A fifty yard zero was advocated, but we did the actual shooting at twenty-five yards with the objective of hitting approximately one and one eighth inches low from point of aim (with an AR15-type rifle). This theoretically corresponds to point of impact coinciding with point of aim at 50 yards. The reason for shooting at 25 yards is that it’s easier for most people to shoot tighter groups, which makes it easier to make the necessary adjustments.

After everyone was zeroed to their satisfaction, we did some basic shooting drills on flat paper targets from 25 to about three yards. In addition to assessing basic marksmanship skills, it was also an opportunity to introduce the concept of the offset between the bore line and the line of sight on AR15-style rifles. An early double feed in one rifle allowed us to see it “for real” as well as review the procedure for clearing a double feed with an AR.

Some simple movement was also incorporated into the drills, taking one to three steps to the left or right. Before the lunch break, most of us had a basic idea of the distance where a holdover was necessary to make a given shot as well as how much offset existed at that distance.

After lunch, we did some more of the basics and then shifted to the eight inch steel plate. We did single shots at 50 yards and about 75 yards, both to confirm zero and to emphasize the necessity of proper follow-through. As usual, the hardest shot to make is a single shot because it’s tough to force yourself to follow-through.

After we finished with the steel, we put the rifles away and switched to our pistols for the rest of the day. The first order of business was for Louis to verify that we had a safe draw stroke and presentation from the holster. Then we did some simple shooting drills on the same flat paper targets, similar to what we did previously with the carbine. After that “warm-up,” we switched to shooting single shots on the eight inch steel target, this time at about 15-17 yards. After everyone had done it once, we then formed two lines and “raced” against the other shooter. Once again, the primary purpose was to emphasize the importance of follow-through!

The last drills of the day involved some more pistol shooting at the flat paper. We ended the day by repeating the “man on man race,” but this time with “head shots” on the paper targets at about three to four yards.

30 August, 2006 – Day Two

The pace on day two quickened, and as it was also the longest day (due to the night shoot), my memory of events is not quite as organized. I apologize for any lack of coherence in the following!

We started with the pistols, this time shooting at “negative targets,” a cardboard IPSC target with a few odd-shaped holes cut into it. The idea was to shoot through the hole and not hit the paper, which is sometimes more easily said that done. Most of the people who have trouble with the negative targets either try too hard to shoot the hole itself, or fail to follow-through. Those who had better luck noticed that the holes were surrounded by a section of cardboard, and by just putting the front sight in the middle of that section, making the shot was a lot easier. Some lateral movement was included as well.

After completing the set of drills, Louis suggested we look at our targets and the “misses.” For the most part, the hits on the paper were quite close to the holes, mostly less than an inch away from the edge. The overall groups shot were entirely acceptable, which was the entire point of the drill. By using the holes as a visual key, the student shot a smaller group than he might otherwise when firing at a full-size silhouette target.

We then moved back to the steel plate at 15-20 yards. Noting that we’d just shot groups at similar distances smaller than the plate, we should have been able to hit it without difficulty. For the most part that was true, and again most misses were due to failure to follow-through.

Next we switched back to the carbines and did pretty much the same thing. When we incorporated movement, Louis mentioned that he wanted us to shoot while moving when possible, and not just move, stop, and then shoot every time. Afterward we went to fifty yards for the steel plate again. As usual, the single shot is the most difficult!

All of the preceding drills were intended to emphasize follow through and reduce group size. From my perspective, they made a lot of sense and worked well for all of us.

After one of the breaks, we were shooting at the camouflaged YFA targets, but they were curved to simulate a three dimensional target. After a few simple shooting drills to get used to them and the appropriate aiming points, we worked on transitions from the carbine to the pistol and vice versa. Forward and rearward movement was also added to the drills, and eventually we were doing transitions from one gun to the other while advancing and while withdrawing.

The idea of doing everything “quicker” was raised throughout the class once we were all getting good hits, but it was stressed more during the transitions. Louis made a distinction between “fast” and “quick,” and I am ashamed to admit that I keep forgetting to ask him to clarify his definitions of both. In any case, he wanted us to do the manipulations and shooting as quickly as we could and still get good hits.

After another break, the curved targets were “slanted” but still parallel to the backstop. Most of the drills were more of what we did previously, mixing each gun with some transitions, some stationary and some while moving. The key difference was that aiming points shifted in order to get good hits (anatomically). For pistols, that was relatively straightforward, but with the carbines we also had to incorporate holdovers at closer ranges due to the previously mentioned offset between the bore line and line of sight.

Then the curved targets were also angled toward (or away) from the back stop. In a practical sense, the target presentation represented what you might see if an assailant were above or below you, or perhaps leaning around cover or concealment. In addition, it significantly changes the aiming points necessary for getting good hits, so the marksmanship demands were higher.

Throughout all of the above, Louis encouraged the class to get the hits quicker, especially with follow-up shots from the carbines.

We spent some carbine time working with the laterally moving target on the wheeled cart that Louis controls with his “South African Computer,” i.e. a pair of ropes. As usual, the erratic movement proved to be a tough shooting challenge, especially when combined with the slanted, curved targets and the need to compensate for the offset between the bore line and line of sight with the carbines. I got to demonstrate that body shots were not necessarily any easier than head shots, as the motion was the same and the target area was not significantly larger.

At twilight we returned for the night shoot, which is always my favorite element of the class. After a review of flashlight techniques, Louis also discussed how those of us without dedicated lights on our pistols would handle transitions. We progressed from some stationary shooting with each gun to transitions while advancing and retreating and also incorporating lateral movement. When adding the complication of a hand-held flashlight when switching to (or from) the pistol, it was an interesting experience coordinating well enough to complete the drills.

Next was a return to the steel plate with the carbines, first at about 35 yards. Most of the students’ lights mounted on their carbine provided adequate illumination to see and hit the steel. When we moved to 50 yards and eventually 75, most of us needed “help” from a much more powerful light Louis had just for that purpose.

After the session on the steel, we went back to the paper targets for more shooting with a lot of movement and transitions. Then an added level of difficulty was introduced by moving the targets into two staggered row, so that the anyone shooting at their target had to avoid hitting any the others, either by shooting through them first or by hitting one with a round passing through their own target. For these drills, we were limited to lateral movement for obvious safety reasons.

The night shoot lasted a bit longer than those I’ve attended in the past, which was a good thing. For a variety of reasons, I tend to shoot better in the darkness, both in terms of accuracy and speed. In addition, it’s one of the more enjoyable parts of any class.

CONTINUED in Message #2 of this topic.

September 3, 2006, 04:56 PM
Carbine/Pistol with Louis Awerbuck – www.yfainc.com
Boone County, Indiana - 28-31 August, 2006
Copyright © 2006 by [email protected]

PART 2 of 2

31 August, 2006 – Day Three

Day three started with more of the same variety of shooting drills, but with photo-realistic targets that were also curved to simulate the three-dimensional problem of a “real” threat. Both pistol and carbine were used, including transitions.

The next exercise was new to me. Using the steel target, three shooting spots were designated at about 65, 35, and 25 yards. Two shots were required at each spot then run to the next, with the student firing from their choice of positions at the two longer distances, but from standing at 25. To complete the drill successfully, six of six hits were necessary, with the first miss ending the attempt. After everyone had tried twice, only two students had successfully completed the course of fire both times, while a few more had done so once. Most of us (including me) were unable to get both hits from the first distance. Louis noted that all of us were shooting over the top of the target and surmised that the lighting (it was overcast with a lot of “glare”) that caused us to all have the same problem. The “excuse” did not make me feel much better about my poor performance, as we can’t pick the weather or lighting conditions when we shoot, either for defense or sport.

After the disappointment on the steel, the photo-realistic targets were placed in two staggered rows. Each student was assigned a number, and when his number was called, either the front or rear target was assigned. Again, we had to be careful to not hit any of the other targets.

We then formed teams of two students each and the targets were placed closer together. Each had a number painted with black spray paint on it. The colors and the angles of the targets made it difficult to see the numbers, so significant movement was required to both identify the “correct” target as well as get a clear shot at it.

After a few of the teams has completed the drills, we were all taught a lesson in the importance of identifying targets (threats) fully before shooting! Previously Louis had painted two of the targets with a large number “3,” but he took the time to go down range with his can of spray paint and changed one of the “3” targets to an “8” on the target that was most difficult to see from our perspective. When he returned, my partner and I were on the line and targets three and eight were called. My partner had no trouble getting “3,” and I moved as far to the left as possible where I could both see “8” and get a clear shot at it. Mission accomplished!

Or was it?

Louis gathered everyone together and had me go downrange and read the number “8” on the target I’d just shot. When I went to it, I saw that it was clearly still a number “3.” He had only pretended to paint it into an “8” while we watched, and for a very good reason. After seeing him with the paint, my brain processed the information and decided logically that he was making the “3” into an “8.” I then “knew” where the number “8” was, so when I moved into position where I could read the huge numeral, I looked. And I truly believed that I’d seen “8,” when obviously I had not.

I looked, but I had not actually seen what was really there. While it was embarrassing, it was an invaluable lesson for me (and I hope for the rest of the class). You have to really see, not just look. You have to absolutely identify your target, what is around it, and what is behind it as per universal rule number four. Fortunately, I got a head start on learning the lesson on the ranger rather than in a situation where the same mistake could be a potential tragedy.

Suitably humbled, we returned to the curved camouflage paper targets from another mixture of shooting drills. At that point, Louis took some time to review of malfunction clearance and we practiced clearing double feed in pistol. Following that, we did a lot more transitions and movement while shooting.

Toward the end of the scheduled day, it started raining hard enough to make us seek shelter. We’d had some sprinkles on the previous two days, but fortunately nothing that prevented us from staying on the range and learning. The rain turned to a downpour and then briefly a thunderstorm. We tried to wait for the line of storms to pass, but by the time it stopped Louis had already decided to end the day.

Sadly we “lost” the last hour or so of class. Although I was tired and welcomed the rest, I was also disappointed as the remainder of the time was intended for shooting in teams of two using the “Mirage” moving target system with multiple three-dimensional threats and non-threats. Other than the night shoots, the time spent using the Mirage tends to be my favorite part of the class as well as the most challenging. It also seems to be the most realistic of all the drills, which enhances the lessons learned from the practice.

Overall, it was yet another great learning experience as well as a lot of fun. The carbine class is always my favorite and I will repeat it for the fifth time next summer!

Hard Ball
September 4, 2006, 10:44 AM
I thougjt that commercials were against TFL rules.

September 4, 2006, 12:28 PM
I don't understand whatever point it is you're trying to make. :confused: I'm new here.

Given that, I note this:

Erick Gelhaus posted (in the topic "The pendulm (and scythe) are swinging ... Heed the warning"):

Training is the second half of the title of this forum. So, yes, we strongly advocate training – as long as it is from competent, proven instructors. We also encourage reviews on training that you have attended, it is always appreciated.

If you're implying that I have some commerical interest in the classes I reviewed, you are sorely mistaken. If you're implying that reviews of classes are inappropriate for this forum, then I must defer to the quote above until informed otherwise by the moderators or owners.

If you're just saying that my reviews suck, then you have every right to your opinion.

Have a nice day! :D

September 4, 2006, 12:46 PM
I think what he's trying to say is that within a single day you've posted 4 course reviews for a single company for training that all occurred in August. While it is not unheard of, it is unusual enough for people to take four training courses within a single month that we take notice.

You are not new here. You joined in Aug. 2005.
And in your year here you've only made 11 posts, all of them made in two days; 5 of them reviews for courses all within a 3 week span, and 4 responses within those same threads.

If your course reviews really are just that, then they are both welcome and informative.

However, certain things stick out - and it really does appear that you are advertising rather than acting altruistically.

Capt. Charlie
September 4, 2006, 12:55 PM
I thougjt that commercials were against TFL rules.
You've posted the same comment in several threads now, Hardball. I'm not sure what your purpose is, but we strongly encourage reviews like these, not to mention the fact that Louis Awerbuck is a highly respected instructor here, and a writer for SWAT Magazine. You know, the magazine who's publisher is also the owner of TFL?

Please leave TFL staff matters to TFL staff.

September 4, 2006, 01:06 PM
To Pickpocket:

I'm not going to argue with you. I am new to POSTING MESSAGES here. Better?

Well, now that you've figured me out, I'll just wait for all the cash to come rolling in. Oh, wait! You're wrong!! I don't know why you're looking for some ulterior motive. I don't know why you find it unusual that someone completes multiple classes with one traveling instructor in a short period of time. Louis/YFA is in Indiana for the entire month of August. Many people participate in several classes each summer, and there are a few notables who actually travel to Indiana and spend the entire month and enroll in each of the classes.

If I could spread the courses over a longer period of time I would because it would be better for me physically. Unfornately I don't have that option. I could always withhold the reviews and post them at pre-accepted intervals so as to not offend anyone, but that's not going to happen.

I posted four reviews because I just finished four classes. If I'd been posting messages here longer, I might have posted them as they were finished, but I don't see how that would have changed the response I've received.

Another error you've made is that one of them was not YFA, but was DTI/Roanoke (Doc Gunn). The two have no connection to each other of which I am aware. If I'm a shill for either, I'm not getting paid very well. I want my money!

Guess what? If I'd completed 10 classes this summer with the same instructor, I'd write 10 reports. There is a pattern there if you can see it. Hint: it has nothing to do with financial gain and everything to do with enjoying writing reports about the classes I complete.

On other forums my reviews have been welcomed or at worst ignored. I don't recall ever being accused posting "commercials." It's funny!

Thank you for your input. Please have a nice day! :D

September 4, 2006, 01:33 PM
You can take it out on me all you wish - if it makes you feel better.
You asked what Hardball's point was, and I tried - in a relatively neutral manner - to explain exactly what stuck out as odd. There are certain things that stick out, and certain things that people notice.

If the explanation that you asked for ended up hurting your feelings, then that's on you. My only suggestion would be to take the post in the manner it was intended rather than get emotional about it.

Stay sharp.

September 4, 2006, 03:12 PM
Oh, Joe, don't you realize that posting training reviews angers some people.:D I figured that out long ago and that's why I stopped. The hate mail made me quit. People don't like to be reminded that they should be training.

Yeah, Joe, was there in class, attempting to further his ejamakashun, dern Yankee. Joe in an engineer not a gun hack (well, he dresses like a gun writer sometimes).:D


September 4, 2006, 05:44 PM

Don't sweat the small stuff. Glad to hear you learned alot from a good man and a good instructor. Many instructors try to copy L.A. but never do successfully.

Your review was informative, and I appreciate reading about it. Good work. Now if I could just figure-out a way to get back to IN for a month of shooting classes I'd....

September 4, 2006, 09:07 PM
KSF ... good to see a familiar "face" here. I guess it takes me a little longer to learn some lessons, but then I lack the advantage of your Noble birth. :D I didn't even know my "feelings" were "hurt" until just now, but I was probably too "emotional" to realize it. I learn something every day! :D

Hotdog1911 ... thanks! My friend from Tennessee who is usually here for August couldn't make it this year, but we did have a fellow from California who completed four or five classes. When I first started taking classes, I didn't realize that more than a few people make defensive shooting and tactics classes as their vacations. They could do a lot worse!

One thing I usually don't do in my reviews is talk much about guns and equipment. I've noticed that a majority of student reviews I've read online seem to focus primarily and sometimes exclusively on the guns and gear that everyone else were using in the class. I don't have much interest in that for the most part, as I really want to know what they DID and what the LEARNED. That's what let's me know whether or not I want to participate in that class or one like it in the future. And when a report discusses what actually happened in the class, we can always find some new ideas or new approaches to old ideas to incorporate into our own practice.

Given that, if someone specifically asks about guns and gear (like recently happened on GlockTalk), I'll gladly share what I remember about that too. It's not that it's not important information, but it's just not my primary focus.

I did get to try a new sling that worked really well, though. I didn't know it when I ordered it (I think from cactus tactical, but I don't remember), but it was made by Blackhawk. It was a two-point sling/carry strap with bungee and a snap hook on each end. I hooked on snap hook to the other and turned it into a spiffy single point sling to accommodate my "enhanced circumference" and it worked really well. It was also a lot more comfortable than my usual sling, which is all bungee, because most of it was stiff (but soft) 1.25 inch webbing. Transitions from strong to support shoulder aren't as easy as with my plain bungee sling, but I think I can work that out with better adjustment of the length.

September 5, 2006, 07:39 AM
I remind you I was born at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. How noble is that?:p

September 6, 2006, 12:20 AM
Hah! You omit that the doctor who delivered you was wearing mink gloves and they placed you on a purple crushed velvet shooting mat after they wiped off the gooey stuff. Your little crown had built-in eye and hearing protection. Didn't Clint Smith deliver you?

Obligatory on-topic comment: my guns (a Bushmaster AK shorty and a SA 1911A1 in 9mm) ran like champs through the whole class, even though I used the ugliest, most tarnished and corroded 5.56 ammo I've ever seen. I did add some lube to my bolt carrier after day two to feel some solidarity with the Boone Co. guys who had to clean everything before they left the range each day.

I even remembered to "push/pull" every time I loaded or reloaded the carbine. And I checked both guns every chance I had since I got busted once with an unloaded gun before a string started in the HITT class.